Christian-made movies often get a bad rap for poor acting, poor direction, and poor writing. The Left Behind
films of a few years ago were the first baby steps generally in the right direction, but there really haven't been
too many deeply groundbreaking Christian-made films. Last year's Hangman's Curse, a thriller based from
Christian author Frank Peretti's novel of the same name is an entertaining affair but does it raise the bar
any higher than previous films from the Christian film industry?
Hangman's Curse doesn't really offer much in the acting department to get too excited about. The
biggest name in the film is common for playing smaller roles in bigger pictures like Daredevil,
Behind Enemy Lines, or U-571. Keith is good here, but not especially memorable. Sadly, the only
performance worthy of note is in fact Frank Peretti's extended cameo as a really eccentric doctor/scientist.
He's the film's much-needed comic relief. The main children characters of Hangman's Curse are essentially
the children of the Veritas Project, Elisha and Elijah. Their performances are okay, but not very impressive.
Both acting talents are for the most part unheard of, although you may have recognized Douglas Smith in
a brief part playing a young version of Brendan Fraser's character in Blast From The Past or Leighton
Meester from the Tarzan TV series. The kids get the most screen time and exchange some cute sibling rivalry
moments, but perhaps do as good as they can with the material they have to work with.
The rest of the cast is virtually disposable. With extreme stereotypical high school clique divisions of jocks
vs. goth students (complete with a line of jocks walking down the hall posing all tough, pushing "lesser" kids out
of the way), the film gives off more of a Saturday morning afternoon special than a feature film. The story itself
is interesting enough to make the film worth a viewing, however. It starts out as a thriller/mystery, slowly
revealing the truth of what is happening in the school, but what really seals this film as a decent chiller is
its conclusion. And while the conclusion may come off to seasoned thriller-viewers as a cheap way to get viewer's
skin to crawl, it's effective. Another thing that Hangman's Curse has going for it is the content. Language
and sexual content are non-existent while violence and drug content is minor or minimal. Personally, the conclusion
rendered the film really hard for me to watch (and makes a repeat viewing highly unlikely). **SPOILER ALERT**
(don't read on if you don't want to know an important plot element) If anyone, like myself,
does not enjoy spiders too much, you'll want to completely pass on this film. The ending is literally riddled with
probably hundreds of considerably large spiders that are given ample screen time. For anyone who has no problem with spiders,
more power to you, but if you do, there are plenty to make this one disturbing viewing. **END of SPOILER ALERT**
Overall, Hangman's Curse is a so-so film with a decent story and ultimately a guilt-free thriller
for Christian audiences. If you're looking for something a little bit more intense or creepy for your family to watch,
this film's for you. But those picky about acting and direction will probably find themselves turning it off
half-way through. Hangman's Curse may also be slightly disturbing for some (with the hanging elements or some
creepy hallucinations some of the students see, or especially the film's concluding scenes), so please keep that
in mind before purchasing or renting this movie.
- John DiBiase
Parental Guide: Brief Summary of Content
Alcohol/Drugs: Undeterminable substances are found in children's
lockers, so the possibility of it being drug-related arises.
Blood/Gore: It's not bloody or gory, but we see a disturbing drawing
a student did of someone who has hung themself. We see a character with insect bites all over their face and arms.
Violence: We see the shadow of a person as they have just hung themself.
A couple kids get into a fight in the school cafeteria. People apparently die from some unknown cause. A person uses a knife to cut open another person's clothing (which
is protecting them from something lethal); etc...
** Disclaimer: All reviews are based solely on the opinions of the reviewer. Most
reviews are rated on how the reviewer enjoyed the film overall, not on content. However, if the content
really affects the reviewer's opinion of the film, it will definitely affect the reviewer's rating.